Whereas their second album Feeler, works a more droning groove, many tracks on Perfume Tree's preceeding disc revolve more around a fairly solid beat. There are still lighter-than-air vocals by Jane Tilley that sound like they could have been lifted from a Projekt album, and the group still walks a strange sort of fine line between trip-hop and gothic (if there is such a thing). It's a good mix, though, and once again it works most of the time.
While the programmed beats aren't quite as interesting on this release, the group makes up for it with better actual instrumentation that wraps around it all. Bass guitar lines throb like crazy and even though they mostly drone and space out, the guitars parts are a little more varied. The disc starts off with a fairly uneventful ambient number that sort of keys the listener into things without banging them over the head. After just over a minute of muffled, swirling noise, things fade down into "Virgin" and a repetitive bass lull leads into those wispy vocals. Eventually, a fairly slow beat shuffles it's way into the track and one can hear the slightest bit of middle-eastern influence with other added sounds. On "Contact," a thick, syrupy beat starts things out before a subdued squall of guitar noise and those ever-present vocals.
With most songs, these same vocals are more of just an element than something that leads the track. Although there are verse/chorus lyrics, most of the time, they're so breathy and light that they just provide another, softer layer to the mix to offset everything else. Other highlights on the disc include the dubbed-out bass sounds of "So Far Away," the creepy, almost industrial grinding edge of "Uneasy," and the super-slow, sliding beat and multiple layers of vocals on "The Nightmirror."
Overall, it's another very solid album from what I consider to be a fairly under-rated group in the genre. Although there are a lot of bands out there doing trip-hop and even more doing the goth thing, Perfume Tree is one that manages to sort of bridge the gap in a very interesting way, taking pretty female vocals and drifting guitars and mixing them up with cool programmed beats and some interesting basslines. If it sounds interesting to you, it probably will be.